Davis Cup: Hurt Zeeshan braces up for new challenge

New Delhi, Jan 11 (IANS) Hurt at Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna's objecting to his appointment as Davis Cup coach, Zeeshan Ali Friday said he was ready for a new challenge with an inexperienced team for India's Group I tie against South Korea slated for Feb 1-3.

Zeeshan, son of former Davis Cup captain Akhtar Ali, said nobody can question his commitment to Indian tennis.

"I am really hurt with their action, especially when I know both of them. It was not the ideal way I would have liked to take over as the coach. Nobody can question my commitment as a player, be it representing India at the Davis Cup, Olympics or the Asian Games. I have always been honest with Indian tennis," said Zeeshan here.

Zeeshan, who shifted to Bangalore last year from Dubai, said his credentials as a coach were never in doubt.

"I don't think my credentials as a coach were any day in doubt. And they cannot question without interacting with me. If I was not eligible, the AITA wouldn't have appointed me as the coach," said Zeeshan, who has been a national champion five-time.

The 43-year-old feels that with time the demands of the players have changed as well.

"Times have changed. When we were players, you couldn't have imagined something of this sort," he said.

Zeeshan hoped the presence of Leander Paes would help to motivate the young team for the Davis Cup. The green horns are V.M. Ranjeet, Vijayant Malik and Purav Raja. Paes will team up with Raja for the doubles. Ashwin Vijayaraghavan and Arjun Khade are the two reserves.

"When it comes to Davis Cup, the whole country is aware of Leander's contribution. He will be the key. His presence is enough to encourage the young players," he said.

Asked if he has spoken to the new players, Zeeshan said: "I haven't spoken to them. But I have seen them play in different tournaments. They are talented and we should back them."

On whether it will be a tough match against South Korea, Zeeshan said: "Davis Cup is a completely different ball-game all together. Here rankings don't matter. So it will be difficult to predict what may happen."

Zeeshan also said that it will be a challenge for him to make sure that the new players stay focussed on the job.

"That is a challenge for us. We have to make sure that the boys stay focussed and away from all the distractions," he said.

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